DASH Diet Weight Loss & Maintenance

Healthy Eating

Research is now showing that it is not only salt that contributes to high blood pressure, but also sugar. Too much sugar makes the effect of too much salt, that much worse. I am sure it is very difficult for scientists to tease out which is worse. My hypertension was completely eliminated through DASH diet and my 90 pound weight loss and too much sugar is very much associated with obesity. My doctor was very clear with me, that if I lost weight, my blood pressure would recede and he was 100% correct. I focused on reducing sodium because my intake was was too high and I had not even realized it. However my sugar intake was also reduced, just by following the DASH diet, because it is low sugar diet.

I highly recommend following the DASH diet to reduce intake in both areas!

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This is a wonderful article on the health risks of excess salt in your diet.   When I was learning to follow the DASH diet to combat my hypertension,  I read a lot of research that showed that a DASH diet with sodium reduction, was far more effective at reducing blood pressure than without.

One of the hardest things to figure out in the diet was how to season meats without salt, because meat with no seasoning is just gross.  As this article suggests, we began to experiment with creating meat marinades using, olive oil, flavoured vinegars, balsamics, garlic, real maple syrup and no sodium spices.

I have found that balsamic vinegars in particular, can provide a lovely salty like flavour to food, but with zero sodium.  They also come in so many flavours these days, like peach, strawberry fig, chilli and lime, mango, raspberry, etc.  I love to go to farmers markets to find interesting, flavoured and balsamic vinegars.  Today, I far prefer these homemade marinades to store bought sauces for meats.

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The DASH diet is a plant based diet, but it is not a vegetarian diet, although you could easily design it as vegetarian. For vegetarian DASH options, substitute lentils, nuts, beans, tofu, etc., in for meat as your protein.  The diet actually encourages these foods and meatless days as well.  An easy way to eyeball plant based, is to look at any meal and determine if half of it is fruit and veggie.  If half your plate is filled with these then you are golden!

I eat 8-10 servings of fruit and veggie everyday.  I find it easier to get my fruit servings in,  so for the veggies, I double up, sometimes even triple or quadruple servings to get the veggies I need each day (e.g instead of half a cup of steamed broccoli and cauliflower with melted cheddar cheese, I eat 2 cups).  This helps keep my fibre intake way up and my appetite under control.  Sure fills me up!

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Dementia and Alzheimer’s, run in my family tree. After the Doctor gave me the DASH diet back in June 2009, I went home and researched it online. This was challenging because I was also doing a difficult final stats class, but I felt hope and momentum, my faith in DASH growing as my blood pressure began to come down a bit, even without the weight loss.  My doctor told me that I would see the greatest results in reduction in blood pressure with weight loss.

I realized it probably was too much to try to lose weight with it until I really figured it out and finished my final exams. I planned to start using the diet for weight loss in Jan 2010.  I actually got started over Christmas though, right after I finished my M.Ed program. I had lots of free cognitive capacity now to research how best to use the diet to lose weight and I threw myself into this fun work!

I felt that in addition to reducing blood pressure and helping me lose weight, it was probably the perfect diet for possible prevention of the family diseases like, diabetes, dementia and Alzheimers.  Certainly my online research, was not showing good correlations between high blood pressure and later onset of these diseases.   The Doctor had warned in my late 30’s, I was on track to develop diabetes, if things did not change.  Today I remain hopeful that DASH has helped me to prevent the development of these diseases, either/or the onset of them will be much later than it could have been.

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I pretty much gave up juice back in June 2009 as part of my switch to the DASH diet to try to lose weight, and reduce my blood pressure.  Back then I was still hypertensive and desperate to make changes that would help me avoid medication and/or weight loss surgery.

Eight years later, we still don’t keep juice in the house, unless we have house guests coming. Now I eat the whole fruit/veggie and water instead and I aim for 8-10 servings a day. Orange juice used to be an everyday drink for me, sometimes 2-3 times a day, but to be honest I have not missed it much at all since I gave it up.  I already didn’t care much for pop anymore, so fortunately, I never had to worry about that piece at all.

In adopting DASH, some changes were harder to make than I thought they would be, like wringing the salt out of my diet while others, like ditching juice, seemed really easy.

 

 

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This article on calories in alcohol makes me think it might be useful to consider a switch to rose. However red wine is said to be better for alzheimer’s prevention, as part of the MIND diet, which is a hybrid of the DASH diet (I have been following DASH since June 2009) and Mediterranean diet.  Alzheimers runs quite terribly in my family, so when I do drink, I have been drinking red wine.

I continue to have to be very wary of weight gain, which could raise my blood pressure again.  Weight maintenance continues to be challenging as I age, because my calorie needs continue to decrease.  I am continually looking for ways to cut calories.  Does a glass of rose provide benefits similar to red wine?  Has there been any research? I mean it’s lighter, but it’s not white… still reddish though.

 

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I have a lower back injury, so I have been taking a bit of a hiatus from running.
Instead, I have been enjoying long walks with my husband in the forest and it is so very pretty in the woods right now! I really enjoy the hikes, but I must admit the running time out is driving me crazy!! I love it so much, I just want to run!!
I have also had to adjust my calorie intake as I think the lack of access to easy cardio opportunities is hitting my metabolism. It means if I cheat at all, it makes it much harder to fix too.
Weight maintenance, at least for me, very much rises and falls in ease, depending on my physical health at a given moment.  It’s like being on a roller coaster ride, all the time, and it’s going to go on for the rest of my life!

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A new study shows the DASH diet, reduced gout risk.   As an added benefit, it looks a lot more palatable than the low purine diet recommended for gout sufferers.  Why not make the switch before it becomes an issue?  Circulation doesn’t get any easier, as we get older.

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When you read this article, it quickly becomes apparent how much of the weight loss process is actually about how you talk to your self. It is your day to day, moment to moment, inner thought process that makes the most difference in the long run.

When I stopped bombarding myself with unrealistic ideas and expectations and my values came into line with my desire to lose weight (i.e I was now quite sick with hypertension), the weight suddenly started to come off and stay off.  It was a much more difficult, slow, a day to day grind than I had ever anticipated.  Finally coming to a place mentally where I could be realistic and truly prepared for the hard work it was going to take for the rest of my life, was critically important to my success.  Worth a read for certain!

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I thought this was a good, quick overview of the DASH diet.  This graphic represents a 2000 calorie per day diet. To lose 90 pounds, I followed a 1300 calorie a day DASH diet for one year. As I felt healthier and my weight dropped, I slowly increased calorie intake, to about 1500 cals per day until I hit my goal of a normal BMI, 18 months after beginning to restrict calories DASH. I do not restrict calories anymore, although I am always careful, but now eat about a 1700 -1800 calories per day DASH diet (1500 mg max sodium per day) to maintain my weight.

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